February 24, 2023. News

VRU Young Leaders discuss crime, violence and safety at the Bucks Youth Summit 2023

Over 200 school children from 20 schools across the county of Buckinghamshire participated in the “Youth Voices Bucks” youth summit on Thursday 23 February.  They joined a range of workshops on topics which matter to young people, including sessions discussing crime, violence and safety.

The Violence Reduction Unit worked with Buckinghamshire Council’s Community Safety team to plan and deliver the workshops, creating a safe space for young people to share their views with each other.

Young people were asked to discuss their experiences and perceptions of crime, to talk about how safe they feel and to identify those areas where they do not, before participating in a facilitated workshop which explored the causes of crime and violence and their ideas on how to prevent it and improve safety.

The workshops were facilitated by Alicia, Naz and Olivia, students of Wheatley Park School Sixth Form in Oxford.  They are all volunteers with the VRU’s “Young Leaders” initiative, which gives experiences and development opportunities, while gaining insights from young people.

The event was an opportunity for students to raise their concerns and ideas directly with the authorities. Listening in to the discussions was Inspector Simon Lincoln of Thames Valley Police and two Buckinghamshire Schools Officers, PCSO Catherine Bennett and PC Claire Annisson.  Also, Chris Geen, Community Safety Partnership Manager at Buckinghamshire Council.  They have pledged to take away the many points raised for further action.

A poll of the top concerns was held with the top four subjects selected as follows and in order:

The Violence Reduction Unit will now work with Thames Valley Police and partners to organise further dedicated youth forums which look specifically at these four topics in coming months, giving young people another opportunity to have their say.

Olivia Barton, 17, of Oxford and one of the three VRU Young Leaders who facilitated the discussions, said:

“The workshops were really lively and the students showed surprising maturity with the ideas and experiences they shared.

“We had diversity too, with students from different areas and from different backgrounds.

“They were concerned about crime and feeling safe, yet also realised that there was much that they could do to help themselves and their friends.”

Alicia Potrimba, 18, VRU Young Leader, said:

“They recognised how young people are under so many influences. Whether that is from their upbringing and the area they live in, to their peer group and the influence of social media.”

Naz, 17, VRU Young Leader, said:

Both in our workshops and also through the online poll we ran, it was clear that knife and violence is still a major concern for young people along with an interest in hate crime, concerns around sexting, and the need to better know their rights when dealing with the police.

“This gives some good insights for local partners to now run further more detailed sessions. We thank everyone for their energy on the day.”

L-R – Alicia, Naz, Olivia – VRU Young Leaders who facilitated the workshops